The Buddy System: Shadows of the Galaxy

The Buddy System: Shadows of the Galaxy

This article comes to us from Kevin over at Roll On Gaming. Be sure to check out he and his brother, Corwin, on YouTube and Spotify for more great Star Wars: Unlimited content!

What a week in Star Wars: Unlimited! Just 26 days after the official release of Spark of Rebellion, the SWU faithful were granted a hefty dose of new cards from Set 2, Shadows of the Galaxy. Most of these were Special (S) rarity cards, meaning they will be exclusively found in the new 2-Player Starter for Shadows, but nevertheless provided some insights into themes that we can reasonably expect come July 12th when the set drops. 

There’s no way to speculate how useful these cards will end up being in a competitive or casual environment until we see more of what Shadows of the Galaxy has to offer, but today we are going to discuss how they mesh with the current card pool. 

Think of it like a group of new hires at your office. Ten fresh faces, ready to climb the corporate ladder… but first, someone has to show them the ropes. We will be assigning a Set 1 “buddy” to each of our Set 2 newbies, tailored to their strengths and designed to help them achieve at the highest possible level. 

Now some of our newest colleagues may have already formed lasting friendships with each other during the interview process - I see you back there, Mandalorian (SHD 49) and Grogu (SHD 196)! Nevertheless, these pairs will be assigned a separate buddy whenever possible. So let’s begin with the two Leaders!

Moff Gideon, Formidable Commander (SHD 7)
SoR Buddy: Darth Vader, Commanding the First Legion (SOR 87)

What better way for a promising young Commander to learn the trade than to study under the ultimate commanding presence in the galaxy? Moff Gideon’s synergy with Darth Vader comes in the form of a shared philosophy: surround yourself with smaller units (3-cost or less) to bear the burden of responsibility, and order them around as you see fit.

Building a deck with an army of lower-cost units will allow you to effectively leverage Gideon’s Leader ability, and then replenish your forces when Vader hits the table so that Gideon never runs out of troops to command. Those troops will work harder for Gideon with the potential to have added power and Overwhelm damage at their fingertips. Just think of how much more effective your Superlaser Technicians (SOR 83) will be when trading into units with 3 HP! 

The Mandalorian, Sworn to the Creed (SHD 18)
SoR Buddy: Snapshot Reflexes (SOR 215)

I admit this one seemed like a bit of a no-brainer; Snapshot Reflexes even features The Mandalorian in its artwork. However, one of the biggest current issues with playing upgrades is immediately losing your unit before they can use that upgrade to your advantage. (More on that later.)

Similarly, with The Mandalorian, merely exhausting an enemy unit by playing your upgrade could lead to a loss of tempo - something I’ve experienced in my testing with Grand Admiral Thrawn, Patient and Insightful (SOR 16) and his own exhaust ability.

Luckily, Snapshot Reflexes prevents either scenario from taking place. For the cost of 1 resource, you are getting to attack with a unit that has a small buff to power and HP, while exhausting an opponent’s unit, all while not falling behind your opponent’s pace. As we have seen early on in Star Wars: Unlimited, that extra 1 power or 1 HP could be all the difference you need in making a favorable trade.

The Mandalorian, Wherever I Go, He Goes (SHD 18)
SoR Buddy: Regional Governor (SOR 62)

OK, look - the obvious choice here is Grogu. I get it. But you have to separate them if you want them to shine individually, right? Instead, I present you with a 2-cost unit in the same color that you actively want to keep on the board for a long time.

If any unit that meshes with The Mandalorian’s ability is going to stick around for him to be played at 6 resources, it’s going to need more than 3 health. Currently, there are seven 2-cost (or less) units in SOR that have 4 HP, and 2 of them are Villainy cards.

An argument can be made for R2-D2, Ignoring Protocol (SOR 236) and/or C-3PO, Protocol Droid (SOR 238) if your deck requires their engine to function at a high level (see the popular “Casino Han” deck), but Regional Governor provides you a valuable ability and a motivation to protect it. I think it will eventually pair quite nicely with the aforementioned Grogu in a deck that runs the Legendary unit version of Mando.

Calculated Lethality (SHD 39)
SoR Buddy: Gideon Hask (SOR 36)

So your opponent played a Wing Leader (SOR 241) to give 2 Experience tokens to their Echo Base Defender (SOR 98). What could be better than playing Calculated Lethality to defeat it and take those two Experience tokens for yourself? How about getting THREE Experience tokens as a result!

While Calculated Lethality might not be as good of a 4-cost removal card as Takedown (SOR 77), Gideon Hask’s ability puts them on more of a level playing field; no matter which one you play, you get at least one Experience token out of the deal.

What’s more, Calculated Lethality can help defeat cards that Takedown can no longer reach, like a Fifth Brother, Fear Hunter (SOR 131) with a Fallen Lightsaber (SOR 137) attached to it. In that scenario, Gideon will surely be glad to have this card around instead of having to sacrifice himself for the good of your enterprise.

Razor Crest, Reliable Gunship (SHD 44)
SoR Buddy: Jedi Lightsaber (SOR 54)

Remember that one time way back when, how I said losing a unit with an upgrade on it before you can utilize it to the fullest of its capabilities was a big concern? Luckily, with the Razor Crest, some of that risk can be mitigated with the upgrade recursion that Din Djarin’s ship provides.

If we’re talking upgrades in Spark of Rebellion, the head of the class is still the Jedi Lightsaber; ergo, bringing a Jedi Lightsaber back to your hand that was previously removed could be MASSIVE to your board presence later in the game.

Now instead of risking it for the biscuit by placing the saber on Yoda, Old Master (SOR 45), maybe it’s time for Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight (SOR 51) to have a turn. Just watch out for that Vanquish (78), or you’ll have to play ANOTHER Razor Crest to take the place of your original Razor Crest, and then you’re on the Razor’s edge, really. 

Phase-III Dark Trooper (SHD 84)
SoR Buddy: Tactical Advantage (SOR 124)

Some of you may not even know what Tactical Advantage does at this point. This is a card that has been far out of the mindset of most competitive players since it was almost universally panned upon reveal.

Indeed, giving a +2/+2 boost only for the phase doesn’t help you out much if your unit is going to receive enough damage to be defeated once the buff wears off. But the Dark Trooper can circumvent that with its ability to gain experience when dealt combat damage. Now, instead of being defeated by a Battlefield Marine (SOR 95) or a Probe Droid (SOR 228) at the end of the phase, your Dark Trooper will still exist as a 4/1 Sentinel entering the next round thanks to the temporary +2/+2 boost.

Combine the boost from Tactical Advantage with Moff Gideon’s Leader ability, and you could be hitting for 7 damage with Overwhelm on Round 2 if you survive an attack, all for the cost of one resource. It may not be the most consistent buddy ever, but these two cards can certainly present some powerful potential!

Grogu, Irresistable (SHD 196)
SoR Buddy: Force Throw (SOR 167)

Just look at this little tyke and try to see past the cute and cuddly facade – Grogu is a ruthless and terrifying creature who will mercilessly toy with your entire strategy, all while babbling along in twisted delight! Don’t believe me? Just wait until your Round 1 play is exhausted - for free! - by the little bugger, and your Round 2 play is annihilated by a Force Throw targeting your own perfectly-curved hand.

All right, maybe I’m being a touch dramatic. But having access to an early Force Throw – or any of the cards that utilize the Force trait – from a unit that can survive a couple initial sources of damage seems highly beneficial. I imagine Grogu will be very popular at the beginning of the Shadows scene because it's got a great mix of value and popularity.If you’re playing Grogu into Aggression/Villainy though, watch out for Force Choke! 

Wanted (SHD 221)
SoR Buddy: Grand Admiral Thrawn, Patient and Insightful (SOR 16)

This was a tough one. The natural pair would seem to be Boba Fett, Collecting the Bounty (SOR 15), but I wonder how much redundancy that deck can handle continuing to ready resources. At some point, your hand is going to run dry, and the favored pairing of Boba Fett with Command doesn’t have a ton of card draw at its disposal currently.

Once I ruled Boba out, I looked to his Villainy Cunning counterpart. Thrawn’s Leader ability to exhaust an enemy unit can sometimes get in the way of playing units on curve, since it costs a resource. However, Wanted could allow you to get that resource back (and some extra if needed) when defeating or capturing the Wanted unit. Thus, you can work with your full complement of the round’s resources at your disposal while still taking advantage of Thrawn's exhaust ability.

Now, I’m not sure Thrawn needs to get MORE clunky in his execution currently, but with proper sequencing this card could be very useful in getting to play everything you want, when you want it. 

Gideon's Light Cruiser, Dark Troopers' Station (SHD 242)
SoR Buddy: Cell Block Guard (SOR 229)

I mean, duh. What else could it be here? A free Sentinel is a match made in heaven for the Light Cruiser, and Cell Block Guard fits the bill.

We’ve already seen great results from unit Darth Vader pulling a Cell Block Guard out of the deck with his When Played ability. Now having the potential for two units in your deck to cycle Sentinels seems quite useful. There’s not much more to say, except that Gideon’s Light Cruiser's When Played ability will NOT retroactively give the Cruiser Ambush if you play Admiral Piett with it. So in the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith, “Don’t try it.” Grab something much more immediately useful like a Cell Block Guard!

There’s no salvaging this one. It’s an upgrade designed specifically for a character that does not exist in Spark of Rebellion. It pushes a mechanic that also does not exist in Spark of Rebellion. The Mandalorian’s Rifle is a lone wolf – put it in the mailroom or with the dubbing decks and just let it do its thing.

Out of the Shadows

While it’s far too early for me to fully immerse myself into the excitement of a new set, seeing these cards from Shadows of the Galaxy is a fun reminder that nothing is set in stone.

Some of the 252 cards we currently are playing with in Spark of Rebellion will get even better or more versatile when they are added to the 262 cards of Shadows. Thinking of ways to maximize a card’s potential is one of the best parts of trading card games, and when you view it all through the lens of Star Wars, it cranks the hype dial up to 11! 

I’m looking forward to seeing what people come up with for Moff Gideon, The Mandalorian, and all the cards we saw this past week. Stay tuned for more analysis as more cards are revealed, but for now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go toss a couple copies of Snapshot Reflexes into my sideboard. 

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